I am frequently asked about my opinion regarding effective job analysis – gathering, reviewing, and analyzing job tasks and responsibilities. There is a school of thought that one must witness the job duties being performed in order to validate job description content. Many of you may have been involved in what HR professionals refer to as “desk audits” where employees are observed doing their jobs at different times of the day and days of the week and track what they do and for how long. In addition, managers are interviewed regarding their view of the job responsibilities.
I am sure many of you have heard about the Google doc heard round the world containing the salaries that Microsoft employees shared anonymously in a spreadsheet so that they “can all get paid more together”. Employees shared years of experience, tenure at Microsoft, merit %, base pay, bonus, and stock information. Almost 400 employees provided data. This phenomenon prompted a website to be created for engineers at different companies to share their salaries – a unionizing type of approach to increase compensation across the tech industry.
As a consultant and one who has a passion for Compensation, I get asked about career pathing or career ladders regularly. Employers spend a great deal of time and effort to create career paths that demonstrate to employees the requirements for moving to the next level in their job track. Job descriptions play a huge part in this process because the bulk of the information differentiating the levels is found there: education, experience, skills, certifications, responsibilities that the employee must be able to perform, etc. Additionally, most career pathing includes competencies (I recommend that my clients also include these in the job description). Competencies disclose the level of skill required to be able to do well in a specific job role. In order to demonstrate competence, workers must be able to perform certain tasks or skills with a required level of proficiency. As you can imagine, developing all of this information is very time consuming.
I always say that job descriptions are the foundation of Compensation – really Human Resources. We use them for so many things: Recruitment, Performance Management, Succession Planning, Career Pathing, and Compensation. Yet there seems to be great confusion on why they are needed and great angst over having to review one, much less write one!
Salary surveys have always been a mainstay for Compensation. Compensation professionals spend thousands of dollars annually to gain access to local, regional, national, and international surveys to ensure that pay practices are aligned with their pay philosophy in relation to the market. The truly reputable surveys (and typically most expensive) ensure that the data provided is from organizations and not employees. This practice safeguards the submittal of accurate compensation data that has not been overstated. Compensation departments have relied on this data to establish their budget for new hire salaries, promotions, and adjustments.
I was recently discussing compensation strategies with one of my clients when I came across a couple of interesting articles regarding a new trend in market evaluation for jobs. Some companies are opting to not use salary grades nor use benchmark positions for salary survey mapping purposes. Rather, all jobs are mapped to salary survey data and then assessed for market equity based on the company’s philosophy regarding the goal survey percentile for their employee base.
I have been talking about job descriptions a lot this past month. Anyone that has worked with me in a compensation capacity has heard me preach about job descriptions being the foundation of any compensation program. But they are used in other capacities as well. Recruitment uses them to understand the scope of positions they are recruiting for and to create job postings. Organizational Development uses them to develop succession plans. Employee Relations uses them to create performance plans. Yet everyone hates to create them!
Compensation has always been a passion of mine. It started with my first Human Resources job when I was a college senior working in a job share for a defense contractor. I still remember reviewing my first merit increases. I will date myself here, but they were provided to me on carbon copy forms. The magic of the numbers was thrilling. The logic of them. The rationale behind them. I loved the way the budget balanced or it didn’t. It was right or wrong – no in between.
Meet The Comp Chick
The Comp Chick, aka, Jennifer Peacock has more than 25 years of diverse experience in human resources ranging from consulting to corporate HR leadership. She started The Comp Chick blog as a way to show her peers that Compensation doesn't have to be boring or difficult.
The Comp Chick, aka, Jennifer Peacock has more than 25 years of diverse experience in human resources ranging from consulting to corporate HR leadership. She started The Comp Chick blog as a way to show her peers that Compensation doesn't have to be boring or difficult. All information included in this blog is opinion.